ETNL went to EGX Rezzed this year to spy on all kinds of amazing indie games. Running from the 13-15th April 2018 at the Tobacco Docks, London, we scoured the entire area for all the games and there were too many to play all of them. Some are known games, like Sonic Mania, which really is a great rendition of the classic Sonic games but modernised in almost every way. Graphically it still looks similar, but everything runs far smoother and it is tighter mechanically. There’s Total War: Thrones of Britannia as well, which feels like a Medieval 3 – which is a good thing. Alongside these 2 bigger names, Codemasters was there with Onrush (more on this later). Aside from these bigger games, there were only indie games, which is what Rezzed is all about; chatting with developers and seeing the passion they have for what they are making.
Rezzed this year also saw Tim Schafer talk about his path to where he is now, and many even got to meet the man himself. Schafer is known for games like Psychonauts, Brutal Legend and Grim Fandango. The equally amazing Outside Xbox and Outside Xtra, as well as the Eurogamer crews, were also on the show floor; taking pictures, signing all the things, and generally chatting to fans. But, you aren’t reading this for some silly preamble, you are reading this to hear about some amazing indie games.
So, let’s get to it! What are the games which stood out the most at Rezzed 2018?
Created by the team behind MotorStorm and Driveclub, which is Evolution Studios, Onrush mixes many different genres. Of course, you have the arcade racing side, but also some chess-like combat, and even a class system like in Overwatch or Team Fortress 2, and even the mobs from MOBA’s (or grunts from Titanfall). To explain all of this, Onrush is a racing game where you aim is to wreck as many vehicles as possible to gain boost. Boost lets you go faster of course, but also builds up to a, basically, ultimate attack. These “ults”, called RUSH, all vary depending on the class you pick – see this is all very Overwatch/TF2 so far right? The MOBA side comes in when you realise you are not only racing against other players but also very weak cars which are just there for you to gain boost (just like mobs), this means if you have lagged behind you no longer need to worry as you will still gain boost and eventually RUSH. When you wreck you don’t spawn back behind the pack, you spawn in the middle of the action again. This actually stops the game feeling like a racing game, and more like a team-based fighter, where you just so happen to be driving something. The game is looking very good, and the soundtrack makes you feel unstoppable when you release your RUSH as it builds into this massive wall of sound.
Onrush is releasing on June 5th for PS4, Xbox One, and coming later for PC.
Developed by Once A Bird, Outsider is a puzzle adventure game, but with no inventory. You take control of an android on its quest to repair and escape everything. I’m now going to attempt to explain what I did in the game, without spoiling it as it really is worth discovering the opening moments by yourself with a fresh mind, so with that said you start off solving several different puzzles which interlink, and after this you awake as an android. The puzzles themselves all feel like you are tweaking with the internal circuity of the android and fixing it up, so it can move before setting off on the long journey ahead. The game looks beautiful as well, with lots of solid colours which help differentiate between everything but also makes it clear what everything is. Then you have the lighting, which adds a mysterious and empty feeling the everything – which makes sense as there has been an apocalypse over the entire universe.
Outsider is aiming to release in Q4 (October – December) of this year, and I wish you would go check it out (there is a demo of Outsider available).
The Spectrum Retreat
Being published by Ripstone, developed by BAFTA YGD (Young Game Developer) 2016 winner Dan Smith alone, The Spectrum Retreat has big boots to fill. And boy it does. Many will compare first-person puzzlers to Portal, but Portal and The Spectrum Retreat share only the puzzle genre. They are very different games. In this game, you manipulate coloured blocks, but sucking colour out or adding colour to blocks, in order to deactivate or activate barriers (which can be doors, bridges, or ledges to fall through, and later many more things). In the Rezzed demo, there were only white and red blocks, but Smith said there will also be Green and Blue blocks as well. The story follows the player exploring a spooky (but not scary) hotel, The Penrose, where all staff are faceless mannequins – and that is all everyone knows. The puzzles have that amazing feel where you start off thinking this isn’t possible, and you feel a bit stupid, then you solve the puzzle and feel like a genius, before kicking yourself for not seeing the solution before – this is why I love puzzle games, they challenge you on many levels, but with the added mystery of the story I cannot wait.
The Spectrum Retreat is set to release in 2018 for the PS4, PC, Xbox One, and Switch.
Pronounced without the g, Fugl (which just happens to be “bird” in Norwegian, coincidence? I think not) is described as a meditative flying bird flying game. Developed by a team of 4, known as Team Fugl, I don’t think I’ve seen a game in motion which looks this good while using voxel graphics. I really could see myself sinking into Fugl for hours, just soaring through the trees, cliffs, passages through the rocks, or anything else. The catch to Fugl is that every time you pass near an animal you turn into that animal but as a bird; yes, you can turn into a flying gorilla or bear. Each creature flies slightly differently, with butterflies being very slow but nimble, and eagles being fast and agile, and gorillas being powerful but slow turning. Fugl really nails what it aims to do, with the sound of the wind rushing past you as you dive, to the sound flapping your wings make, and even to the scenery around you. The game is colourful, vibrant, and interesting to look at. No two hills or rocks look the same, each cave is unique, and each tunnel has its own curves. There are bird and level creators as well, where you can share your creations on the Steam Workshop.
I’m wondering if you will jump onto Steam and grab yourself Fugl (for PC and Mac), or if you will wait for the VR or mobile (Android and iOS) releases.
Vikings are attacking your shores, defend your people. This is Bad North, a rogue-like real-time tactics game, with an art style to die for – but please don’ actually die for it. Developed by three-man team Plausible Concept, who have credits such as Little Nightmares, LittleBigPlanet, being an Artist at Ubisoft, and Among The Sleep.
Bad North sets you out defending islands from invading Vikings. It’s a very simple game, you press a button to go into â “order” mode which slows down time and allows you to tell your troops where to go, to retreat, or recoup your lost men. Everything else is handled by the AI, with attacking and navigating being automatic. Just place your men, and watch them kill – or die, depending on if you did it all well. The minimal art style really works with Bad North, with every silhouette, weapon or action being beautifully animated, It also has an amazing soundtrack to go with it as well. The soldiers almost hop around in this rather adorable way and then attack without mercy when anyone comes close. Bad North surprised me with the complexity coming from its simple presentation, and with procedural islands to defend it will be different every time.
Bad North is coming to PC, Switch, Xbox One, PS4, iOS, and Android in Summer 2018.
The ‘sequel’ to the excellent Absolute Drift is all about the art of going around corners sideways as fast as possible – rally. Developed by one-man team Funselektor Labs, Absolute Rally has a similar perspective to Drift, but this time the camera follows the direction of the car. The demo had 3 locations available, Finland (naturally), Sardinia (surprisingly), and Japan (to reminisce about Absolute Drift). Each one felt different but also felt great to play. Discussing with the developer, he told me that he wants to add as many rally locations as possible, including the Safari rally – YES PLEASE! – and I would love to see the ice of Monte Carlo. The thing that strikes me the most with Absolute Rally is how the car feels, while it isn’t a simulation by any means, You get the same feel from handling the car, such as in games like Dirt Rally or Project Cars 2. A free roam area was shown as well, where you could practice your skills. It has specific areas to test out braking, handbraking, slaloms, doughnuts, or just driving around to mess about. The stages themselves lack a co-driver calling out corners, but as the game is top-down, a co-driver is not needed at all. You are both co-driver and driver.
Absolute Rally has no release date yet, but hopefully 2018, or early 2019.
Now let’s take some time to mention some other great games. These are the games which standout just as much as the ones above, but are either far smaller, very early in development, or where I want to talk about how they ace one aspect of the game.
A side-scrolling bike action combat game, Steel Rats lets you pick between 4 characters, each with a different ability. There are two lanes you can travel along, and switching between them is as easy as moving the analogue stick up or down. The thing which really impressed me with Steel Rats, is the animation of the bike. How the bike leans to the side when changing lanes, or when you turn around (with the press of a button), feels and looks very life-like and it adds a great feel to the act of riding around.
Developed by Tate Multimedia Steel Rats is releasing for PS4, PC, and Xbox One in 2018.
Inspired by the work of Fritz Kahn, and his medical illustrations. In Kahn’s work, he likens how the human functions to computers, and it’s all set up like an organisation. With the boss being the brain, and each area of the body is a different department. Everything is connected via phone lines, which just so happen to be the nervous system. Homo Machina takes players through each of these departments during the day of a human, as you the solve the puzzles of operating a human. The thing which stood out to me was how solving these puzzles really felt like you were controlling a human body.
Homo Machina, developed by Darjeeling, is coming to Android and iOS in Spring 2018.
Sinner: Sacrifice For Redemption
Dark Star want you to suffer, much like FromSoftware does. Sinner is a boss-battler and super tough game of the same ilk as Dark Souls. It features fair and hard combat, it’s rather dark and gloomy but weirdly pretty at the same time, and you will die a lot. It’s perfect for Soulsbourne players and will defiantly fill the gap left by Dark Souls now that it has ended. Lots will defiantly shun Sinner as being a Dark Souls clone, but from what I played it lives up to being put next to any Souls game.
Sinner is set to release April 25, 2018, for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Like Roots In The Soil
This is a short, and free, story-driven game with very limited interaction. You simply rotate the mouse to view two different perspectives. The story is about two different guys walking to a common destiny. The thing which really stood out to me was the shifting of perspectives and how it told two different stories at the same time and space, but during different times frames. The game really shows how time can change a place. The story is delivered as a poem and ends unexpectedly happy.
Developed by SpaceBackyard, Like Roots In The Soil is out now on itch.io for free, on PC and Mac.
Being developed by Ovid Works, in Metamorphosis you play as a bug. You crawl around the world solving environmental puzzles, avoiding humans, and absorbing the story. Metamorphosis really shines in its sound design. The clacking of the bug’s feet as it crawls around, the sound of books falling over, and everything else just sounds amazing. It has a real tactile feel to everything and really makes you feel like a bug.
Metamorphosis does not yet have a release date, or has been confirmed which platforms it will be on, but expect PC, Xbox One, and PS4 at the very least.
Featuring gorgeous hand-drawn Japanese inspired art, Haiku Adventure is an adventure game where you must use a haiku to change the world around you. It’s really interesting as how in most games you collect things and use things, where, in Haiku Adventure you collect passes in a Haiku. These are your tools, and these allow you to solve puzzles. Words are your weapons. It makes the game feel very different from anything else and is super interesting for it.
Developed by Small Island Games, Haiku Adventure is coming to PC in 2018.
That’s all for Rezzed 2018!
These have been the standout games of the show, but if you attended this year’s Rezzed has any game been missed out? If one has, shout them out in the comments.